Monday, August 3, 2015

Toddler Gear: Potty Training Essentials

Potty training began quite early for us, and it wasn't intentional at all. I had been thoroughly warned by all moms that trying to start potty training too early could have dire effects {cue dramatic music} But my little girl had a mind of her own. Below I've listed all the gear we used on our potty training journey.

[1] Potty training seat
Just before her first birthday, we were finally winning our war against diaper rash when I started to notice that every single time I went to change her diaper she was completely dry and would proceed to pee on me only after I removed the diaper.  She did this consistently every single time. I happened to mention this to her pediatrician who suggested that I just place her on a potty as soon as I take off the diaper and see how that worked out. I was initially quite hesitant, she seemed way too young for a potty, but the more I thought about it, the suggestion made perfect sense. The truth is I've never liked the idea of a stand alone potty. It just seems counter intuitive, to train the child to go in the potty and then later transition them to an actual toilet. It also feels like its more work involved in having to clean out the potty after each use. So I made up my mind from the beginning we would skip right to a potty seat that fits over the toilet and save ourselves some hassle

As usual I was surprised at all the different options out there for something so basic; some seats were designed more for traditional round toilet bowls, whilst others could be adjusted to fit the more modern elongated toilets. And of course there were themed seats with different animated characters, especially mickey and the disney crew. I just wanted something simple but good quality so I decided to try the Prince Lionheart Weepod Basix.

On the manufacturers website it is advertised as being a soft, cushiony seat that provides ultimate comfort. I decided to try it because it seemed simple and straight forward to use. The seat is secured to the toilet seat with suction pads and can stand upright when not in use.

In some ways the material that this seat is made out of is similar to a bumbo seat.  The seat seemed to work well for us at first. I didnt notice anything wrong with it. And like magic my 11 month old daughter would pee in the toilet as soon as I took her diaper off and put her on the seat. I was confused by how easy it all seemed. 

Within a few months the seat developed a tiny crack underneath it and within days the cracked had widened until the seat was unusable. I contacted the manufacturer with photos of the seat showing the crack and they offered to send me a new one after I had filled out a claim form.

 The replacement seat came with additional instructions on how to remove the seat from the toilet. It stated that the proper way to remove the seat was to squeeze both sides of the seat together until the suction pads popped off the seat.  I assume this indirectly meant that I had been taking the seat off wrongly all along and that's why the seat had cracked. So I made sure to always remove the seat "correctly" but surprise surprise within a few months it was cracked again! I really didn't have the time to go back and forth with them about it again so I threw the seat out and decided I needed to find something better

This time around I bought the Bjorn Toilet Trainer Seat. This seat cost more than twice as much as our previous one but was totally worth it. We have been using this for a year now and its still good as new.

The key features that attracted me to it are as follows:
It is adjustable to fit most toilets with the aid of a dial underneath it.
It is easy to take on and off the toilet, my three year old is able to this all by herself.
Best of all there are no suction pads to worry about! I realized that this seat allows my daughter to sit more naturally on the potty than the Weepod Basix which was way to high. It also has a handle so it can be hung from a hook on the side of the toilet. I highly recommend this brand!

[2] Step Stool.  This is really a must have in my opinion. It is multi functional too so it can be used for much more than just potty training. These are some of the main reasons I decided we needed a step stool for her:
- To reach the sink to wash her hands
-To get up on the toilet by herself
-To provide support for her once she was sitting on the potty seat. Without the stool her feet just dangle in the air and if you have never tried this I challenge you to. Next time you're sitting on the toilet and trying keeping your feet up in the air... its pretty darn difficult to actually go without the support from your feet on the ground.

After looking around I decided to purchase the Bumbo step stool.

Step Stool Dimensions
15.12"w x 6.5"h x 11.125"d

It's available in a variety of colors and has been really helpful so far. It is lightweight and easy to move  around. My daughter can pick it up and move it by herself. It is designed to support all weights up to 110lbs  and it has a non slip base, so it stays put.
We also use this stool for brushing her teeth. All in all it's been great!

[3] Travel potty seat
The most nerve wracking part of potty training is venturing outside the house. Because suddenly you don't have complete control of the situation, you don't always have a bathroom close by and even if you do the toilet seats are disgusting and way too large for a tiny toddler to sit on. I came across the Kalencom Potette Plus portable potty system and it has been such a huge help in the process. It is a 2-in-1 travel potty system.

Firstly it can function as a seat that goes over a toilet. This is good for public bathrooms, the seat folds open and securely goes over the toilet in such a way that the toddler never has touch the actual toilet itself. Once your are done the seat folds down and fits into the drawstring bag that's included with the purchase. Its different from the potty seats you would use at home in that it is smaller and can be folded down to fit into a purse or diaper bag.

Secondly this portable potty can function as a full potty. This means if there is no toilet around the seat can be used as an actual potty. This is possible with the aid of either  disposable liners that go over the seat or a reusable liner that can be cleaned out and used again. The initial purchase includes three disposable liners and I also purchased the reusable liner which I keep in my trunk
I've had this travel potty for about seven months now and so far I've only used it as a seat in public restrooms and never had to use it as a full potty but its nice to know that I do have that option if I'm ever faced with that situation. Once I get home I disinfect the seat and put in a new plastic bag before placing it in the drawstring carry bag.

Reusable liner that fits over the seat
Disposable liner
I've used this seat so much, it has been really made potty training a lot less daunting for me. The only drawback is that that drawstring bag isn't the most durable bag out there and it ripped after awhile of using it.
[3] Underwear
This is actually a big part of potty training.  Transitioning from diapers to underwear is a big thing for toddlers so I ordered a variety of brightly colored underwear featuring her favorite characters as an added incentive. I tried a few brands and most of them ran large, the only brand that really fit true to size was the Fruit of the Loom brand. Despite the fact that the colors faded pretty fast, I still prefer that brand over the others just based on the fit.

[4] Vinyl Diaper Pants
I know this sounds super oldschool but for us it really worked. we only used these for a few weeks before she got the hang of things. we put her in her regular underwear and put the Dappi waterproof vinyl cover over it, so if she wet herself she would feel uncomfortable and wet but the vinyl would keep the mess contained so it wouldn't ruin all our carpets and furniture. For the most part it did work as we had hoped. We still had some leaks here and there but that can be expected with potty training. she was definitely very uncomfortable with these on once she was wet and would tell me immediately. Eventually she realized she could just tell me before and go on the potty instead of on herself.

[5]Potty Training Books
Although my daughter started going on the potty before her first birthday, we were not actively training her not to go in her diaper until she turned two.  Which meant that prior to that time, she would go on the potty when that option was available but would also have wet diapers too. Introducing potty training materials definitely laid the ground work for the process. Her godmother sent her the classic Once Upon A Potty book which has fun Play A Sound features.

This book was written by Alona Frankel in 1975 so as you can imagine its pretty old school, but still very effective. My daughter loves it!
We also got her the Potty Time With Elmo book and she loves it too.

Several people have asked me if potty books are useful. I would say they definitely are. Reading these to her really opened up the conversation about going on the potty and taught her the necessary vocabulary she needed to express herself.

[6] Disposable pull up diapers.
My daughter can't wear huggies diapers because they irritate her skin, so we went with the Pampers Easy Ups. Many people will tell you that these pull up diapers are the enemy and will sabotage your potty training process. I disagree wholeheartedly. I do agree that these pull up diapers pretty much feel the same as a regular diaper so they don't really teach the child to stop going in their diaper. However they still play an important role in the potty training process. These are good for overnight use as well as long drives or days out. We use them as our 'insurance policy' just in case she has an accident.

Overall our potty training experience has been in interesting one, I still dread the words "Momma I gotta go potty" when we are miles away from a bathroom. But somehow just like all the moms before me we've managed to laugh our way through it. Our little girl is 95% potty trained, with only a few accidents happening when she naps.  We are looking forward to reaching the 100% potty trained mark!

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